Having your music leak is, in general, difficult for every musician. Any press plan surrounding the rollout of your music gets thrown out the window. For Jai Paul, it was especially taxing. Demos of his debut album were leaked in 2013, sending the UK musician into a panic that led him to leave music altogether for a few years. Now, with almost no warning, Jai Paul is back with two finished songs and his first website.
Paul’s design background shows through with his creative and unique website. The site as a whole feels similar to the video game Minecraft. Dulled white noise plays through the speakers as you navigate through a hazy field to different floating objects. These objects include two t-shirts for purchase, a poster, vinyls, lyric sheets, and a downloadable version of his unfinished debut album available for a “pay what you want” price.
The album download includes a long letter from Paul explaining the reason for his lengthy hiatus and what happened the night he found out his debut record had been leaked.
“I wanted to use this opportunity to share a little information about what happened regarding my music in April 2013,” the letter begins. “As you may know, some of my unfinished demos were put up for sale illegally via Bandcamp. The leak consisted of a fairly random collection of tracks I had made over quite a long period of time (from roughly 2007 to 2013), in various stages of completion. Some are short skits and beats from my MySpace page back in the day before I signed a record deal. A large proportion of this music was to be completed and released officially in some format.” The deal mentioned was his signing to XL Records.
Jai Paul goes on to say he still doesn’t quite know how the music was leaked, but many people had access to it starting in 2010. Paul said he immediately called the police when he found out about the leak because nobody knew exactly what trajectory to follow.
He explained how the album leak affected him emotionally:
I understand that it might have seemed like a positive thing to a lot of people – the music they had been waiting to hear was finally out there – but for me, it was very difficult to deal with. As things unfolded I went through a number of phases, but the immediate, overriding feeling was one of complete shock. I felt numb, I couldn’t take it all in at first. I felt pretty alone with everything, like no-one else seemed to view the situation in the same way I did: as a catastrophe. There was a lot going through my mind, but the hardest thing to grasp was that I’d been denied the opportunity to finish my work and share it in its best possible form. I believe it’s important for artists as creators to have some control over the way in which their work is presented, at a time that they consider it complete and ready.
I was also frustrated by how all this was being framed online, leading to the widespread belief that I had decided to leak my own music, despite my record label and I saying otherwise. It didn’t fit at all with anything I had done previously in style or attitude, and especially not in presentation. To make matters worse I was advised at the time to keep quiet and leave things ambiguous, but this didn’t really fit with my vibe and there was disagreement among us. I soon felt unable to engage with it at all.
He explained that the police investigation of the leak lead to two people being arrested and getting their computers seized — but it was too late. It had already been a year after the initial Bandcamp leak. The two arrested individuals had racked up a significant amount of money from his music, and the police were able to freeze their bank accounts. Paypal and Bandcamp were even able to refund everyone who bought the leaked music their money.
Paul said his emotional state deteriorated after the incident and he had a breakdown. He quit music for a while until he was able to seek professional help and begin creating again. The two leaked demos, Jasmine and BTSTU, quickly grew in popularity and became an influence for countless pop musicians. The musician’s unfinished debut album was also added to streaming services under the name Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones).
Listen to Jai Paul’s two new songs “Do You Love Her Now” and “He” below.